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Leveraging the Shift to the Virtual Workforce

A fully or mostly virtual workplace is no longer an abstract concept. For many companies, it became a necessity overnight. Those companies that are now looking to fully embrace the transition to a virtual workforce and make it part of their long-term plans can put themselves in an advantageous position. Let’s first look at some of the advantages before we dive into some of the things that you’ll need to ensure to make it all happen.

Ability to expand your current talent pool

Before the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic slowdown, the unemployment rate was hovering at historically low numbers. According to the 2019 Global Skills Shortage study conducted by SHRM, 83% of respondents had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the previous 12 months. Even though the pandemic has led to a significant increase in the number of available candidates, companies are still sure to hold onto their best talent. If you are shifting to a scenario where more of your workforce is virtual, you remove the barriers that were previously in place such as only hiring local candidates or the cost burden of relocating new hires. In contrast to that, a Robert Half study found that 77% of respondents said they were more likely to take a job in which they were allowed to telecommute.

Happier employees are more likely to be productive

While working remotely is not for everyone, many potential employee benefits from working from home include avoiding commuting, reduced costs (gas, public transit, lunch, clothing, parking), a healthier work-life balance, more time with family and less stress. Those are all likely reasons why a 2019 Owl Labs study found that remote workers say they’re happy in their jobs 29% more than on-site workers.

It can positively impact your bottom line

We know that employee turnover is a painful and costly problem. The 2019 FlexJobs survey reported that 80% of respondents would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. That same survey also showed that many job seekers are willing to forfeit other perks:

  • 28% of respondents said they would take a 10-20% cut in pay
  • 21% are willing to sacrifice vacation time
  • 16% said they would give up employer-matching retirement contributions

While this doesn’t mean companies should start cutting these benefits, it does show just how valuable flexible work situations are to potential candidates, and it does increase the odds of attracting better talent when it becomes available. 

Setting your company up for success

To enable a successful virtual workforce, there are a few things that you’ll need to prioritize to make the transition.

Put the right technology, processes, and support in the right place

Video conferencing, file sharing, and collaboration tools are already used in physical offices, but you’ll also want to ensure that your inter-departmental processes are optimized for remote teams and effectively offer all remote workers support.

Focus on candidate fit

Virtual workforces can be successful, but not everyone is cut out to be a remote worker. We’ve previously talked about the traits of successful remote workers and what makes a great remote manager, and those are important factors to weigh as you assess your current team and future hires. We’ve spent decades matching science and learnings from hiring data to our technology to help companies make more-informed and better hiring decisions. And from what we see across the economy, candidate fit may now be more critical than ever. Better candidates mean a better Quality of Hire (QoH), which translates into better performance and business growth.

Position yourself appropriately within the virtual workforce job market

Candidate experience is a frequently used term in the Talent Acquisition field. These days, candidates are interviewing companies just as much as companies are interviewing them. It’s crucial that you put your best foot forward and make a great first impression. Offering a customizable, branded, and virtual hiring experience for candidates will ensure that top talent is attracted to your brand from the start and stays engaged throughout the entire hiring process.

It may be a long time before we collectively agree that things are “business as usual” again, but by looking at the transition to a virtual workforce as an opportunity and not a hurdle, you can effectively make your business more agile, more attractive to candidates and ultimately more successful.